Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

40.  Memorandum submitted by Trident


  This report is submitted to the Home Affairs Committee in relation to its inquiry into Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System, by "Trident", the Metropolitan Police Service unit that investigates violent gun crime within London's black communities ("Trident Criminality").

  The aim of the report is to give an insight into the causes and theories of Trident criminality. Although no single explanation is possible, it is hoped that these insights will assist in understanding why some people from black communities get involved in Trident criminality and consequently enter the criminal justice system. The report also contains information on the ages of those involved—which is reducing—and on the career paths of some of those who have become Trident criminals. Although this report is restricted to Trident matters many of the factors (eg the reducing age of those involved in violence and disadvantage) apply to other groups.

  It should be noted that this report only gives a picture of gun crime for the London area.

  The data and information used to compile this document has been obtained from the Metropolitan Police Intelligence System (CRIMINT), the Metropolitan Police Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS), Trident databases and Trident staff. The analysis within this report is either conducted over the financial year or the calendar year depending on the data sets available.


  Serious gun crime within London's black communities hit the news headlines twice in four days in the summer of 1998 with the shocking and brutal murders of Avril Johnson in Brixton and Michelle Carby in East London. Both young mothers, who were at home with their children, were tied up and mercilessly shot in the head by a Jamaican gang.

  Serious gun within black communities continued to increase and spread across London and on 24 July 2000 the Metropolitan Police Service officially launched Operation Trident whose brief was to tackle "Shootings within the black communities of London". See Appendix A for Terms of Reference.

  Chart 1 provides a breakdown of the number of Trident murders and shooting incidents for the last seven years. The total number of incidents are illustrated by the black line. The total incidents are then broken down further by crime classification into the categories of murder (— line), attempted murder (- line) and other shootings (solid line) (eg GBH, robbery, criminal damage etc).

  Murders are recorded by the number of victims as there have been a number of incidents in which there have been two or more people murdered.

  The attempted murder and other shootings offences are counted by incident. This therefore explains why when the three categories are added up they do not equal the total incidents.

  It should also be noted that the data for 2000-01 might not be accurate and slightly low as Trident was not formed until July 2000 and offences would have been dealt with by other units prior to that date.

Chart 1


Murder (victims)
Attempted Murder
Other Shootings
Total Incidents

  *  2006-07 data—1 April 2006 to 11 March 2007.

  Early Trident criminality, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was mainly perpetrated by Jamaican-born nationals. In the last four years there has been a steep rise in the involvement of British-born suspects, many being second and third generation African Caribbeans making this more a "home grown" problem. Notwithstanding that, some of the most violent offences have been committed by Jamaicans and there is evidence of people whose immigration status is doubtful exerting fear and dubious influence in British communities.

  The nature of Trident criminality makes it difficult to predict, in that shooting incidents are sporadic. A shooting can be a "one off" act of disrespect and another such incident may spark a flurry of activity in the form of reprisals. The majority of Trident subjects lead chaotic lifestyles and the carrying of firearms is second nature to them.

  Since 1 January 2001 to date (11 March 2007) 1,195 firearm homicides and shootings have taken place within London's black communities. Appendix B provides a detailed breakdown of these incidents by year and borough.

  Historically approximately two-thirds of Trident shootings take place on the Hotspot Boroughs of Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark, Brent and Haringey. However the last two or three years has seen the emergence of Lewisham and Waltham Forest as prominent boroughs for Trident criminality.

  In only one of these shooting incidents has a female been identified as discharging the firearm.

  Only one borough in the Metropolitan Police Area, Havering, has not recorded a Trident shooting incident.

  Much of the Trident gun crime is, unsurprisingly, linked to the poorer London Boroughs, areas of deprivation, high ethnic minority population and high unemployment. The Index of Multiple Deprivation[224] identifies Hackney (second), Southwark (fifth), Haringey (sixth), Lambeth (seventh) and Brent (thirteenth) as some of the most deprived boroughs in the London Region. These boroughs also have the highest density of African Caribbean population in the London Region.[225]

  There is evidence that Trident gangs also have links to other major cities such as Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham.

  Music venues/clubs continue to attract gun crime offences often due to particular promoters or groups appearing at the venue. Also because one particular crew/posse are aware that another opposing crew/posse frequent those premises and, as such, the venue becomes an ideal location to commit a shooting.

Prison Sentences

  Since 1 January 2002 a total of 40 life sentences have been handed down to subjects arrested and charged with murder by Trident. A total of 3,909 years of imprisonment has been given to subjects arrested by Trident for the period 1 January 2002 to 9 March 2007.

Table 1



Life sentences
Total imprisonment
Source: Trident.

  Table 1 provides a breakdown of the prison sentences. * 2007 figures 1 January to 9 March.

  Recent successful high media trials have seen life convictions given to the suspects for the murders of:

    —    Seven-year-old Toni-Ann Byfield and her father in Brent in September 2003.

    —    Zainab Kalokoh at a christening in Peckham in 2005.

    —    The triple murder of the Morrison sisters and their mother's partner Noel Patterson in 2005 in Brent.


  Since 1 January 2002 in the course of their investigations and pro-active operations Trident have seized a total of 1,838 firearms and 69,882 rounds of live ammunition.

Witness Protection

  Trident are working on building confidence in witness protection systems and take every opportunity to publicise convictions and sentencing to encourage future victims and witnesses to come forward.

Operation Newlandrig

  This joint Trident and HM Immigration Service initiative was commenced in November 2003 aimed at the disruption of Trident subjects, men of violence, or those involved in criminality that supports Trident criminality, by means of utilising Immigration powers of detention and removal from the UK.

  The operation focuses on persons identified as illegally in the UK as a result of Trident operations and intelligence. This can include not only Trident suspects but also victims and witnesses, in particular drug dealers who are illegal immigrants and are often targeted by gangs in drug robberies, which can result in shootings or retribution attacks. The removal of potential victims of these gangs is an effective crime reduction tactic to decrease the opportunity for the commission of such offences.

  In the financial year 2005-06 there were 131 Newlandrig arrests and 75 removals. This included arrests for immigration offences, possession of false documents and theft/handling of stolen documents.

  This ongoing operation continues to make a significant impact on Trident criminality.


Chart 2

Source: Trident

Chart 3

Source: Trident

  Charts 2 and 3 provide a breakdown by percentage of the ethnicity by incident for suspects and victims of firearm homicides and shootings (not including commercial robberies) in the Metropolitan Police Area for the calendar year 2006. (Ethnicity is classified by visual description under the police ethnicity codes).

  Where mixed group is shown this means two or more suspects of differing ethnicity eg one White and one African Caribbean.

  As can be seen from Chart 2 African Caribbean males commit 79% of these offences whilst most of the mixed group, over 3%, also involved African Caribbean suspects.

  On examining Chart 3 three-quarters of the incidents involve African Caribbean victims.

  Generally the majority of firearm homicides and shooting incidents are intra-ethnic.


Chart 4

  For the financial year 2005-06 analysis was carried out in relation to the borough on which arrested suspects committed their Trident criminality in comparison to the borough of their home address. As can be seen from chart 4 almost two-thirds of Trident criminality is very localised, with a further quarter of offences committed on a neighbouring borough.

  This confirms the territory theory in relation to conflicts between gangs from different estates and areas sometimes referred to as "post code violence" and also drugs turf wars.


Chart 5

  Analysis has been conducted around the solvability of Trident shootings (not including Trident murders) for the financial year 2005-06 whereby the investigating officers were asked to supply brief details of the current situation of the investigation. The results are depicted by percentage in chart 5.

  The challenge Trident officers face is clearly evident in 40% of the shootings where the victim is unwilling to assist police even though in many instances the victim knows who the perpetrator(s) are. Some elect not to help police due to fear of further attacks on themselves or their family whilst others do not trust the criminal justice system and seek to "settle the score" themselves in a revenge shooting.

  In 12% of incidents officers are presented with a "crime scene only" where there are no identified victims or suspects, the only evidence they have of a shooting being ammunition casings found at the scene. Gun crime, particularly shooting incidents, often results in a lack of forensic evidence.

  Suspects are charged in just over one-eighth of the incidents. In around another eighth of the shootings, although arrests are made there is insufficient evidence to bring charges.

  Nearly a fifth of shootings see no suspects identified and/or a lack of witnesses. The event is so quick that witnesses often do not see exactly what happened. Witnesses often fail to come forward and give evidence through fear of reprisals and often witnesses will fail to turn up at court.

  The majority of Trident murders and shootings take place in the hours of darkness between 10 pm and 3 am. 15% of Trident incidents take place in or close to nightclubs[226] where lighting and large crowds make it difficult to clearly see what happens.

  Although the 2006-07 financial year is not complete yet, preliminary analysis has been conducted on incidents committed so far. Current findings show that the percentage of "unwilling victims" is fairly stable at 43% as are "crime scene only" at 11%.

  The other categories are currently not comparable due to on-going investigations with suspects still wanted, awaiting charges or Crown Prosecution Service decisions.

  Examination of data for the past two years identifies that 93% of suspects charged with Trident murders and shootings have previous criminal convictions. Meanwhile 71% of Trident victims have a criminal record.

  Since 1 January 2002 there have been 90 Trident murders within the black communities of London. Trident murders are often very complex investigations and some take two or three years to solve.

  To date 57% of these murders have seen individuals arrested and charged. It is anticipated this percentage will increase as ongoing investigations progress.

  When a murder investigation reaches court almost half the arrested suspects have received life sentences (see Chart 6). A further eighth of suspects have received terms of imprisonment for manslaughter. A quarter of cases see the defendants acquitted or found not guilty whilst 15% of cases are discontinued due to lack of evidence.


  The most worrying trend over recent years is the commission of Trident offences by younger suspects who do not fit the usual Trident profile.

Chart 7

  Source: CRIS.

Chart 8

  Source: CRIS.

  Chart 7 clearly indicates a decrease in the age of suspects with 54 teenagers, one being only 14 years of age, being charged with Trident murders or shootings over the past two years.

  Similarly Chart 8 indicates an increase in younger Trident victims with the peak age being 19 years, the same as that of suspects.

Chart 9

  Source: CRIS.

  Chart 9 provides a breakdown of the ages of Trident murder victims since 2004. The drop in the age of Trident murder victims is clearly evident.

Table 2



Number of victims
Percentage of victims

  Source: Trident.

  Table 2 provides a breakdown by number and percentage of young Trident victims over the last four years. It confirms the trend of more teenage involvement, with the percentage having almost doubled since 2003 with almost a third of Trident victims in 2006 being aged less than 20 years.


  Analysis of Trident Criminal Career Paths and Individual Case Studies of Trident subjects was completed in April 2005. This work focused on 15 individuals who had progressed from acquisitive crime to Trident criminality.

  During research and analysis their criminal careers were tracked including the location of their crimes. Their family background with regards to parents and fellow siblings was examined including their criminal history.

  Table 3, which has been compiled from arrest data, provides simplified case studies of the criminal careers of three of these individuals. The offences listed in each age box are ones that the subject was involved in during that age year and there is no specific time scale for that year.

    MPS—Trident—Sue Prior, 2005.

  Source: Trident.

  Their progression from acquisitive crime to Trident criminality is clear to see, as is the increasing violence in their activity particularly in conjunction with drugs offences and also the close link between drugs and Trident criminality. Also noteworthy is the expulsion from school of all three individuals.

  Youngsters between the ages of 16 and 18 years, who are unemployed and cannot claim benefit, are particularly at risk from drugs suppliers who recruit them to deal, which provides them with an income.[227]

  Progression from acquisitive crime to firearms offences and Trident criminality is quite swift. This is highlighted in chart 10, which shows that the peak time span for these fifteen individuals to progress from their first arrest to an arrest for firearms offences is just six years.

Chart 10

  Source: Trident.

  Other key findings from the research study are shown below:

    —  On average 73% of the offences for which these subjects were arrested were committed on their home borough, usually in close proximity to their home address.

    —  All of the shootings committed by these individuals outside of their borough of residence were at nightclubs.

    —  Eight of these individuals (53%) had been arrested for the supply of drugs.

    —  Fourteen of these subjects had served a term of imprisonment by the age of 19 years.

Chart 11

  Source: Trident.

    —  All fifteen of these individuals had been arrested by the age of 15 years (Chart 11).

    —  Seven of these subjects (47%) had never claimed any benefits from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions).

    —  Where the subject's father had been identified 75% had a criminal record.

    —  50% of these subjects' mothers had criminal records.

    —  Where the subject had elder siblings one or more of them had a criminal record.

    —  Where these subjects had younger siblings 53% had criminal records.

    —  Two of the subjects had family members who had been convicted of murder.

  It should be remembered that this study was on a very small sample of only fifteen individuals, who came from one London borough. However, it does provide a good insight into the background and criminal careers of these young black males.

  Such profiles can change rapidly and this research has not included study of the interventions that were tried with this group.


  Trident criminality is a complex issue with numerous theories as to its causal factors. Many of these have recently been debated following the three firearm murders of teenagers in South London.

  Appendix C provides a detailed chart encompassing the many theories of the influencing factors pertinent to Trident criminality. This chart was compiled using the knowledge and experience of Trident Police Officers and staff gained through intelligence gathering, investigation and liaising with members of the black communities of London.


  UK criminals at all levels are unlikely to have difficulty in acquiring a firearm should they wish to do so. However, knowledge of how and where criminals acquire firearms is limited. Firearms and their component parts can be sourced from internet sites, usually from countries where possession is legal, such as the USA. The internet is an easy and comparatively safe way to acquire firearms, and has made them more accessible to would-be UK buyers. Firearms sent by ordinary post not only cost less to import, but effectively go hidden amongst the vast volume of post arriving daily in the UK. There is some intelligence to indicate that complete, genuine firearms are sourced this way, although most recoveries have been of readily convertible blank-firing weapons.

  The number of firearms seized on entry would suggest that firearms are generally being smuggled into the UK on a small scale.

  A recent assessment highlights that firearms seized at UK points of entry originate from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Croatia, with limited intelligence indicating that Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and Spain are transit countries for the supply of illicit firearms to the UK.

  The Metropolitan Police Service and Greater Manchester Police have highlighted the importation of Baikal firearms. It is believed these are being converted and imported from a factory in Lithuania and smuggled into the UK. The Metropolitan Police suggests more than one network is involved in supplying these weapons to the UK, as they are being sold to Organised Criminal Gangs from differing communities.[228]


  We would recommend that further research by relevant partners could be considered, as follows:

    —  Further research as to why younger people are getting involved in gun crime.

    —  Further research into the risks related to exclusion from school.

  The further development of a risk assessment tool backed up by inter-agency working along the lines of the MAPPAs (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) might be valuable.

  We support the recommendations made in the ACPO Submission namely:

    —  Increased educational and welfare support for young black people to the age of 21.

    —  Incentives for young people to find and remain in employment.

    —  Greater emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation initiatives as opposed to enforcement leading to increased criminalisation of young black people.

224 Back

225,5812,1395103,00.html Back

226   Trident Murders and Shooting Incidents in and outside Nightclubs, Bars and Public Houses-2001-06-November 2006. Back

227   Lambeth Borough Police "Tackling Gun Crime" workshop-8 to 9 September 2005. Back

228   ACPO Criminal Use of Firearms Portfolio-2007. Back

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